Try This New Spin on Goal-Setting

arrow  hitting targetRecently I listened to an interview with Chalene Johnson, who introduced me to a new idea for goal-setting.

At first I was skeptical, but when I actually went through Chalene’s steps, it worked!

Here’s what she suggested:

1. Set 10 goals.

WHAT? TEN goals? That’s too many, isn’t it?

Trust Chalene. Write down 10 goals across a wide range of areas of your life.

Here are the areas Chalene suggests for your goals:

  1. Educational (a “get smart” goal — something you want to learn more about)
  2. Pure joy — something just for the fun of it
  3. Love life
  4. Family / friends
  5. Spirituality
  6. Environment — Meaning where you spend much of your time, such as your home or workplace
  7. Purpose / profession
  8. Financial
  9. Fitness / nutrition
  10. Mental wellness — I like to think of this as emotional well-being.

Once you’ve come up with a goal for each area — or 10 goals in any area, if you prefer …

2. Figure out your personal “push” goal.

What is the one thing that will facilitate the achievement of all or most of your 10 goals?

Chalene refers to this as your “push” goal because it acts like a domino, pushing the other ones over.

In the interview she gave the example of getting more sleep. For some people, this is the one thing that could make all the difference in achieving their heart’s desire.

In doing this exercise I discovered that my personal push goal is to budget my time.

I personally need to parcel my time into packages and assign specific activities to those packages — including rest.

I can make huge strides toward my 10 goals, but only if I focus on my “push” goal of time management.

3. Focus on your push goal.

Your 10 goals should fall like dominoes behind the right “push” goal. What’s yours?

I’ve been focusing on time management for the past week. Planning my time has become the most important thing I do.

Once the time is allotted for a given task, I can sit down and do it. Because the time is designated for this particular task, I’m free of the “Should I really be doing this right now, or is there something more important I need to focus on?” blues.

When I take the time to plan my time, it’s astonishing how more productive and balanced I feel.

Thanks, Chalene!


With all this focus on how I spend my time, I’ve decided to stop slavishly posting on Tina’s Tidbits every single Saturday.

This is my 170th post, and I’ve never missed a Saturday. But it takes longer than you might think to put together a thoughtful blog post.

Blogging is only one of my activities, yet it takes up more than its share of my time.

I also speak, teach and counsel in addition to trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, see family and friends, travel, exercise, learn Spanish, and find time for my guilty pleasure: Reality TV. (Wait — does watching The Bachelor count as a spiritual goal?)

So I’m officially hanging up my “weekly blogger” skates and putting on the plain “blogger” shoes.

I have blogging commitments at PsychologyToday.com and GoodTherapy.org, and I’ll continue to share those posts, with exclusive commentary, right here on Tina’s Tidbits.

I’ll also share any worthwhile tidbits or “deep thoughts” (air quotes) as they come to me. I like talking things over with you, and I value your feedback.

But I’m excited to start taking the time I need in ALL areas of my life, including training to walk the 2015 Portland Marathon in October!

So don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a post on any given Saturday. I’m still here.

I’m just managing my time differently.

I hope this post inspires you to find your own “push” goal, the one thing that will help you achieve everything you desire.

Photo courtesy of bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why Our Relationships Hold the Key to Personal Growth

Bride and groom walking away on the roadThis week I’ve got an article I really want to share with you because it gets right to the heart of one of the most important truths about our relationships.

We tend to be attracted to partners who help us recreate the same troublesome dynamics we were hurt by earlier in life.

For example, a woman marries a man with an addictive and unpredictable personality, just like her mother.

Or a man marries an emotionally unavailable woman who unconsciously reminds him of the stoic grandparents who raised him. But check this out…

On the surface, she may seem wildly different from his grandparents. She’s outgoing, socially active and superficially affectionate.

But in subtle ways — ways neither of them recognize — she keeps a wall up, shutting him out. Just like the people who raised him.

Freud called this “the repetition compulsion.” We’re compelled to repeat (so we can fix) the painful dynamics of early formative relationships.

The trouble is, we usually try to fix the other person.

This is not a winning strategy.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining. If both partners are willing to look inside themselves, a great deal of personal growth can take place. The compulsion to repeat difficult relationship dynamics can be transformed.

I like to think that if just one partner is brave enough to take an unflinching look at him- or herself and take some emotional risks, he or she can experience growth within the relationship.

And who knows? Maybe the reluctant partner will follow suit.

Gandhi’s advice, to BE the change you wish to see in the world, is true in relationships as well.

Enjoy Marian Stansbury’s excellent article at the following link:

Revisiting Childhood Wounds in the Context of Couples Work

Photo courtesy of Just2Shutter / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Sorry” Isn’t Always Good Enough

Marina

The dock in the foreground is covered in sea lions. They’re not apologizing for eating all the fish. I don’t think they’re sorry.

I’m on vacation this week, and my mom has come to town to join me on a couple of road trips.

A few days ago we were in the tippy-left corner of Oregon, visiting the historic city of Astoria.

Nestled in the hills at the mouth of the Columbia River, the town has a generous supply of hotels with river views. We checked out several on arrival before selecting the one that seemed to have the best location and amenities for our purposes.

It was by no means the least expensive, but it seemed like paying a little extra would be worth it after a long day of travel.

Although the hotel was empty when we arrived (we had our pick of rooms), it was well before check-in time and our room wasn’t ready.

No problem; we had places to go and sights to see.

We were given our keys then and there, which was convenient, but told to come back at 3pm.

Vintage trolley

The restored 1913 trolley takes you on a guided tour for $1.

We gave them an extra hour and returned at 4pm after riding the vintage trolley and strolling the downtown area.

We were ready to put our feet up, so we unpacked the car and went straight up to the room, loaded with bags and eager for a rest.

We were greeted by the sight of unmade beds and garbage on the floor.

An hour past check-in time, the room had still not been cleaned.

I made my way back down to the front desk. The person was very nice.

She explained that they’d been having some “communication issues” with Housekeeping due to their computer system.

She explained that the hotel had been full the day before, and there were many rooms to clean.

She gave me keys to a different room.

She may or may not have said she was sorry. With all the explaining she was doing, if she apologized, it didn’t register.

The 125-foot Astoria Column stands on a hill and commands a birds-eye view of the city if you're willing to endure the 164 steps to the top. Um ... maybe next time.

The 125-foot Astoria Column stands on a hill and commands a birds-eye view of the city if you’re willing to endure the 164 steps to the top. Um … maybe next time.

Once ensconced for the night, my mom clicked on the TV to find out what was on the many channels offered by the hotel.

(My mom likes her TV in the evening, so the many-channels thing is a big deal when choosing a hotel.)

She pressed the “Menu” button on the remote. Nothing happened.

We tried pressing every button but couldn’t locate a TV guide channel. What do you do with 500 channels and no guide?

We called down to the front desk to get some coaching on how to use the remote, and a nice young woman came up to check it out.

She couldn’t get the TV guide channel, either.

She explained that all the remotes had just been replaced, and they may not have been programmed correctly.

She said, “Sorry about that.” There was no offer of recourse or amends.

We asked whether there might be a local newspaper with TV listings available. The young woman was dubious, but did manage to locate a rumpled copy of a national newspaper.

My mom made do with the bare-bones listings in the paper, and was soon enjoying her many channels.

Although everyone we dealt with that day was friendly, I got the feeling they were more interested in making us understand their difficulties than apologizing for ours.

Obviously, they hadn’t read my post on How to Apologize. ;)

Not being able to check in to a clean room or find out what’s on TV are “first-world problems,” to be sure. Then again, my mom and I live in the first world.

We’d been traveling all day. We were tired. We wanted to relax and watch TV.

We were expecting a clean room and a working TV remote for the money we paid.

It wasn’t just the problems themselves; it was the lack of visible concern about them by the staff that threw us off.

But you know what?

Thinking about our experience on the way home, I realized that if I go back to Astoria, I’ll probably stay in that same hotel again.

My disappointment, while real, was not big enough to outweigh my satisfaction with the hotel’s location.

If we’d had a worse experience — say, been robbed by the maids or found a mouse in the oatmeal — then it would be a clear case of “never again.”

But the problems were easy to live with, and so my view of the hotel is more gray than black or white.

When I think of it, my thoughts are that it’s not perfect, but the location is terrific.

All in all, our visit to Astoria was very pleasant. Apparently the city gets six feet (yes, six FEET) of rain per year. We were there for a couple of the rare dry, sunny days.

Life is definitely like a box of chocolates.

Which we had with us, of course. What’s a road trip without chocolate?

How to Recognize When You’re Being Passive-Aggressive

2 woman at oddsWho among us can honestly say they’ve never behaved in a passive-aggressive way?

When I’m not being assertive, passive-aggression is my go-to. I figure it’s better than outright aggression, and I don’t seem to be wired for passivity, so sometimes it feels like the best option.

There are hundreds — maybe thousands — of subtle ways to avoid being assertive.

This week’s article, in which I happen to be quoted, is a survey of just a few of the twisted moves we make to get around saying what we mean.

Most of these sound pretty intentional to me, and fall more on the aggressive side.

But as I say in the article, I don’t think passive-aggressive behavior is used as a weapon on purpose. At least, not usually.

I doubt most of us even recognize what we’re doing when we make a passive-aggressive maneuver.

In those not-so-proud moments, we’re setting aside our right as adults to simply state our wants, needs, preferences and opinions clearly.

Why is being passive-aggressive so much easier than asserting ourselves?

Check out the article at this link and let me know what you think:

Don’t fool yourself: Seven signs that you’re being passive-aggressive – The Washington Post

Can Reconnection Cure Boredom?

bored young womanI’m not often bored these days, but I certainly have been bored before.

I don’t like it. Not one bit.

I’m curious about boredom. I want to know what causes it and why some people seem to experience boredom constantly, while others rarely or never do.

Boredom feels bad, but it seems different from other feelings. What exactly is boredom, anyway?

I was puzzling over this when this article on 5 types of boredom came to my attention. The article describes and labels boredom, but doesn’t explain it.

Why do we sometimes feel bored?

It’s easy to list the kinds of things that trigger anger, sadness or fear.

For example, when someone mistreats an animal, I get angry.

When someone I care about moves away or dies, it makes me sad.

Horror movies, riots, Simon Cowell … these trigger fear in me.

But what triggers boredom?

Boredom as Self-Alienation

When I think back to times in my life when I’ve felt an unpleasant, negative sense of boredom, they all have one thing in common.

In boredom, I feel alienated from myself.

Nothing sounds good to me because it’s like there’s no “me” there.

Reading a book, calling a friend, taking a walk, going to the gym… nothing sounds like something that would break me out of this awful sense of therebutnotthere-ness.

What if boredom is just self-alienation?

If it is, then the cure for boredom is to reconnect with oneself.

The following exercise from my book, Constructive Wallowing, helps you focus on your heart and may help pull you out of boredom.

The next time one of us is bored, let’s agree to try this and see if it helps, okay?

How to Connect With Your Heart

(I’ve adapted this from the book version for when you’re feeling bored.)

When you have some time and privacy, get comfortable and place a hand over your heart.

Breathe normally for a minute, then…

Imagine that each breath you take is nourishing your heart.

As you in inhale, each breath feeds, soothes, and nurtures your aching heart.

Imagine your heart being grateful for your breath…

If simply breathing into your heart doesn’t bring you back to yourself, you might want to ask your heart a question.

You might ask your heart, “What do you need?,” “How can I be closer to you?,” or “What do you want me to know?”

You’ll know your heart is speaking to you if you start to feel emotional.

Emotions may be to boredom what light is to darkness.

Feeling something, anything, may banish boredom just as flicking on a light makes the darkness disappear.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Or I will, if I’m ever bored again.

(As long as I have you to talk to, I don’t see it happening.)

Do you have a favorite tip for breaking out of boredom? Please share it by leaving a comment below.

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why We Need to Embrace Self-Pity

I love self-pity.

It’s so necessary, because nobody knows how bad things can get for us sometimes like we do.

The only problem I can see with self-pity is that we don’t do it enough!

“But what about all those self-pitying types who go on and on about what a bum deal they’ve gotten?,” you might ask. “Don’t they have enough self-pity for all of us?”

I’m glad you asked me that.

Those so-called self-pitying types are only playing at self-pity. They talk a good game, but on the inside they’re their own harshest critics.

They continually abandon themselves, refusing to engage in genuine self-compassion while they chase after someone else’s sympathy.

It’s kind of complicated, I guess.

Paradoxical, even.

Check out this week’s post at this link:

The Self-Pity Paradox | Psychology Today

One more thought…

True self-pity is not about “playing the victim.” It’s about the cold, hard fact that sometimes you ARE the victim.

The truth can set you free.

Just my opinion. What do you think?

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Relationships

Now that spring is here, I thought I’d offer a few tips for some “relationship spring cleaning.”

Try these with your partner, friends, family, or even coworkers.

1. Listen more. Even if the other person already does most of the talking, how carefully do you typically listen? Challenge yourself to tune in to what they’re saying, rather than letting your mind wander.

2. Make time. The word “relationship” may be a noun, but “relate” is a verb. It’s something you do, not something you have. Relating takes time and attention, but these pay huge dividends.

3. Be the change you want to see in the relationship. Anything you want more of — understanding, respect, patience — give it to the other person. Relationships change when one person does something differently.

4. Replace old habits with new ones. It’s hard to remember to not-do something, so instead, pick a new habit and start doing that. Instead of criticizing, validate. Instead of over-helping, pay attention to your breath.

5. Have the talk you’ve been needing to have. Use “I” statements and take responsibility for your part. Be clear on where you want things to go from here.

6. Feed the relationships you want to grow. All of the above steps do that. Also tell the people you like or love how you feel about them. Don’t assume they know.

7. Starve the relationships you no longer want. Be kind to people who have accidentally been allowed to wander into your life, but don’t give them your energy. You don’t have to kick a stray cat if you want it to go away. All you have to do is not feed it.

Do you have a relationship tip to share? Please leave a comment below.